January 25, 2013 by Adam HermannAt some point, you learn to take the small victories without worrying about when the big ones will come. The Drexel men’s basketball team is slowly but steadily starting to pile up those small ones.
The Dragons defeated The College of William & Mary 59-48 Jan. 19, finally ending their three-game losing streak and picking up the team’s first win in 17 days. The team benefited from a great shooting day from guard Frantz Massenat (19 points on 50 percent field goal shooting) as well as a dismal shooting day from the Tribe.
The Tribe shot just 32.7 percent for the whole game, continuing a painful streak of their own that has now climbed to a gaudy seven-game losing streak stretching back to the late days of 2012.
With this information in hand, the Dragons’ win feels cheapened, as it comes against what would seem to be inferior competition. And yet, at this point in the season, the Dragons can’t afford to be picky.
And so the stage was set for the opportunity to win back-to-back games for the first time all season. The team traveled to Hofstra University Jan. 23 with sights set on another limping Colonial Athletic Association team in the Pride, who entered the game 5-13 on the season, seemingly primed for yet another loss.
However, the game was a tooth-and-nail fistfight of a contest. Neither team stretched a lead beyond eight points, and both teams finished the game within one percent of the other’s field-goal percentage. It was the epitome of an evenly matched game.
Hofstra’s Taran Buie was determined to keep it that way, as he hit seven three-pointers to keep his team in it until the end. He tied the game with a three just 5.9 ticks before the end of regulation, setting up what looked to be the Dragons’ fourth overtime game of the season. They lost their first three.
But Massenat wasn’t exactly compliant with the idea of overtime.
On the inbound pass, Massenat turned into a double team in the middle of backcourt. His initial attempt to break free of the press nearly knocked the ball out of bounds, and he recovered it with roughly three seconds to go. He split the defenders, rose up at half court and launched a 50-footer just before time expired.
Massenat explained what happened on the play.
“The guards come to the half-court line, and whoever gets the ball turns around and tries to attack and look for someone else who was setting up across the three-point line. It just didn’t go down that way, but it definitely worked out.”
It was a phenomenal shot, possibly the team’s best shot of the season. The most important part of the shot, though, was the win.
“It’s a good thing for us because it’s our first [back-to-back wins]. We avoided overtime, so it’s big,” Massenat said. “And now our guys are thinking that we have that confidence, that we can always win a game until the last second.”
Instead of relishing in their first two-game win streak and the shot of the season, the Dragons need to regain focus and move on to the next one as soon as they can.
Next up on the slate is a red-hot Georgia State University team coming to the DAC for the homecoming game, and the Panthers are riding a four-game win streak.
GSU has a three-headed attack in Manny Atkins, Devonta White and superb freshman R.J. Hunter. As you might imagine, the Dragon defense, which hasn’t allowed a 60-point effort in the last three games, has a tall task ahead, albeit one they can handle.
“[It’s] the same thing as last game,” Massenat said. “We have to take our time against their pressure. We know they can get hot at any time, so we have to keep our pressure on and just stick to the game plan.”
After the past week’s two wins, the team sits at a less-than-ideal 7-11 record with 12 games remaining in the regular season. Trying to grab one of the top seeds in the conference tournament is out of the question for the Dragons; what they can do instead is continue to build confidence.
Their next four games are against four of the six best teams in the CAA. If they can win two or three of them, starting Jan. 26 against the Panthers, then the Dragons can put themselves on the road to recovery.
Forget regular-season records — the focus is now on the conference tournament in March. That’s the ticket to March Madness. Once seeds are handed out, anything is possible. After Massenat’s miracle shot, the Dragons seem perfectly capable of “anything.”